the_goldenpath: made by <lj user="dawnrune"> (Gundam Wing Fics - God of Death)
[personal profile] the_goldenpath
Title: Duo Maxwell and the Amber Room of Gold
Fandom: Gundam Wing
Pairings: established Heero and Duo
Genre: AU, action/adventure with light angst/drama/romance
Warnings: Duo’s potty mouth, some violence. Shounen ai.
Summary: After his adventure in Tibet, Duo Maxwell returns home with Heero and receives a request from the military organization known as The Alliance to retrieve paintings lost during WWII. He travels to Eastern Europe and soon discovers that’s not all he’s supposed to retrieve…
Author’s note: unbeta-ed. Sequel to “Duo Maxwell and the Sword of the Khan”, following the same Tomb Raider-ish concept (not a cross-over), but can be read as a stand-alone. Some references to people and events from the Tomb Raider comics, movies, and/or games. Feedback is a nice thing.

Key: ----------------- = scene change





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When he regained consciousness, Duo immediately realized that he was in a moving vehicle. The thrumming sound of a car engine was all too familiar to him. Slowly, he tried to determine his surroundings; his fingers touched the roof above him and he drew the conclusion that he was locked up in the trunk of the car. Whoever had kidnapped him from the library, they sure had made a big mistake: they hadn’t tied him up. His hands were free. Duo groaned. His head hurt like a bitch; what had they used to sedate him? His hand went to his neck and his fingers touched a minuscule, stinging spot on his skin. The bastards..! The road was bumpy and he barely avoided hitting his head. He tried to collect his bearings. Heero would go look for him, and he wouldn’t give up until he had found him. Those idiots didn’t know what fury they had unleashed by kidnapping him! He’d love to know where they were taking him to, whoever ‘they’ were. He was tossed from left to right, worsening his headache and disorientation. The car either lacked suspension or the road was simply that bad, which meant that he wasn’t in Bucharest anymore. Back to rural country? But why?

“It was supposed to be easy, just the retrieval of some stupid paintings,” he muttered to himself. Artwork stolen during WWII, but he had the feeling he had ended up in the middle of another war. Duo took in a deep gust of breath and cleared his mind. It was of no use to panic or to worry. So many different scenarios were in play, so many different outcomes were possible; it’d be a waste of time and energy to fret about it. He’d be better off evening out his breathing and calming down. He tried to relax and roll along with the harsh movements of the car. On the other hand, he didn’t want to be too relaxed; as soon as the kidnappers pulled over and opened the trunk, he wanted to jump out at them and take them by surprise. He had faith that Heero would find him no matter what, but that didn’t mean Duo Maxwell couldn’t take care of himself.

At long last, the vehicle came to a stop. Bruised and battered, Duo braced himself physically and mentally. He heard footsteps and counted at least three different male voices. He balled his hands into fists, and he dug his heels against the confinements of the trunk. He wasn’t going down without a fight! More voices; he recognized the language. Romanian. The men laughed and were obviously joking around. Why were they having fun? What the hell was going on? The next second, everyone went silent. Duo’s heart sank. Why the silence? His mind raced a mile a minute. The silence was reverent, eerie. Something was happening, but what? Footsteps. Heavy footsteps. Boots. Duo absorbed every detail, it was important to his survival. He didn’t have the luxury of taking it easy and be his usual casual self. This was deadly serious.

Deschidel!” a harsh voice cracked through the air like a whip. Duo held his breath, tightening his muscles. A key was stuck into the lock of the trunk and it went open. He was ready to lash out and he growled at he got up, but his effort was stopped dead in its tracks. He relaxed his fists and stuck up his hands in a gesture of surrender. At least five men held him at gun point; in the modest moonlight, he could see the shiny barrels of shotguns and revolvers. He didn’t recognize the model or make.

“Get out of the car.”

Duo obeyed and climbed out. Once his feet hit the ground, his knees buckled and he almost toppled over. After lying in a cramped position for so long, his legs just couldn’t carry his weight at the moment. Muscle pain shot through him and he grunted.

“Hurry up!” One of the men grabbed him at the shoulder and pulled him up.

“Hey hey, easy does it,” Duo snarled at him. “Lemme stretch my legs, man.”

“Be careful with the gentleman,” the harsh voice spoke again, sounding amused. “After all, we need him in good condition.”

Duo couldn’t see who the voice belonged to. His vision was slightly blurred and his mind had trouble processing what was happening. It had to be the aftereffects of the sedative, and he started feeling queasy. It didn’t help matters that it was dark; he was totally disorientated.

“He’s no good,” a man with a beret said, his English broken and heavily accented. Duo tried to take a good look at the faces of his kidnappers, in an attempt to recognize anyone. He wanted to remember their features as best as possible. A tall man in the middle said something and two burly guys approached Duo.

“Don’t do something stupid,” he growled, adopting a fighting stance, even though he wasn’t sure he was capable of throwing a good punch. “I already have a boyfriend, and he’s not going to be happy when he finds out…” He squealed indignantly when the burly guy on the right picked him up as if he weighed nothing and unceremoniously slung him over his shoulder.

“Don’t worry, Mister Maxwell,” the tall man spoke again, identifying himself as the one with the harsh voice; every word was curt and clipped. Duo gawked at him. He had seen this man before, but he couldn’t attach a name to him or where he had seen him, not yet. “We’re going to take perfectly good care of you.” He snapped with his fingers and Duo was carried away. He didn’t bother fighting anymore; he felt as weak as a kitten. In a last ditch effort to determine his whereabouts, Duo looked around, turning his head from left to right. He didn’t know these men, but in the very last second he thought he saw a familiar face nonetheless: one of the Pǎrvulescu brothers. He wasn’t sure which one and it didn’t matter at this moment; his eyes slid close again and he knew no more.


-------------------------------------



Heero had spend the entire afternoon visiting galleries and antiquaries, much to his growing frustration and irritation. Of course he hadn’t expected to find leads to the stolen paintings immediately, even though the topic was a well-discussed one between art dealers. Bringing up the topic, disguised as a question from an ignorant tourist, had involved him in quite the heated conversations, but no concrete lead he could work with. During all the debates, Heero heard the name Djurdjevic quite often. He wasn’t sure if it had something to do with the unsympathetic candidate-mayor of Brsiç. After all, the name was fairly common in these areas and he couldn’t just tie one person with the same name into this mess of looted artwork. He had to be objective and discuss his findings with Duo. So Heero was on his way to the library, checking his cell phone to see if he had any messages from Duo. He wasn’t surprised to find none; even though Duo always claimed that his elder brother Solo had been the studious one, he displayed similar behavior of becoming completely lost in what he was reading, and his phone would be the last thing he’d think about.

At the library, Heero lazily took the elevator to the first floor. It was almost closing time and most of the patrons prepared to leave, gathering their coats and books. Heero checked the printing and scanning equipment first, but no one was there. He searched for Duo all over the first floor and ended up at the corner with the various chairs and desks, for reading and studying in silence. Only one person sat in the corner, an elderly woman with a couple of psychology books in front of her. Duo wasn’t here either. Maybe he’d gone to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee? Heero was about to leave for the cafeteria, when he noticed an abandoned cell phone on the second desk in the corner. He immediately recognized the model.

Breathless, Heero moved forward and picked up the phone. The elderly woman didn’t pay any attention to him. Heero checked the display; its background was a picture of him and Duo, so it was unmistakably Duo’s phone. He could be a little careless with his possessions sometimes, but his cell phone… no, Duo wouldn’t leave it here, unless something was wrong, very wrong. He pocketed the cell phone and left the library, worried and agitated. Duo. Who could ever get his hands on him? They had to have surprised him in a unique way, Duo was an excellent hand-to-hand fighter and… someone walked beside him, extremely close. Heero grunted, slapping himself mentally for not paying attention. Now this man had snuck up close to him, and Heero hadn’t noticed him until the last moment! What if something happened to him, so he couldn’t find and rescue Duo? Just as he was about to tell the guy to get away from him, another man walked up to him and joined his other side. The next second, Heero felt something sharp and pointy, poking against his spine. He would’ve laughed at the situation, knowing that he could take both of these goons down effortlessly, but his instinct told him to keep calm. This all had something to do with Duo and so he didn’t protest as they descended the stairs, leaving the library behind them.

No one said a word. The men forced him to take a turn to the left and they continued to walk. To an outsider, it looked like three men were just walking close to each other, as friends, but if one were to take a look on Heero’s face, it would definitely tell them otherwise. He didn’t bother to hide his increasing annoyance.

“Where are we going to?” he finally asked.

“Shut up,” the man to the left said. Strangely enough they walked back to the center of the city, instead of a quiet back alley. Heero wondered what was going to happen. If they wanted to beat him up, the city would be a poor choice: too many witnesses. Instead, after a brisk walk, they lead him into a narrow street, littered with seedy bars and cafés. Music spilled over the pavement, crowded with working-class Romanians, looking for a place to drink and relax some as their workday was over. Without making a fuss, Heero allowed the men to direct him to a bar that didn’t seem to have a name; the windows were dirty and hadn’t been cleaned in ages. As soon as he entered the bar, Heero coughed from the heavy tobacco smoke lingering in the area. Nobody looked into his direction; the few patrons too busy cradling their glass of pǎlincǎ or Šljivovica, traditional types of plum brandy, usually served before a meal, but also used as holding a toast at traditional parties, ranging from weddings to harvest festivals.

The corpulent bartender nodded at the two guys flanking Heero. The guy on the right said something to the bartender and directed Heero and his ‘colleague’ to the back of the bar, forcing everyone to sit down in the tight corner on hard and uncomfortable wooden chairs. Heero realized quickly that he had very little room to move; the heavy table in their midst would only work against him if he were to flip it; the sturdy legs would immobilize him, instead of offering a chance to escape. The bartender arrived and put coffee on the table, along with shot glasses and a bottle of the typical Šljivovica. He left after serving the drinks; he didn’t make eye contact with Heero, who hadn’t assumed he was going to help him anyway.

The man to his left took a glass of Šljivovica and downed it. His ‘colleague’ on Heero’s right did the same, and to Heero’s surprise, shoved the cup of coffee towards him. He didn’t believe it was spiked with something; after all that trouble of bringing him to this place, it wasn’t likely they were going to dispose of him right here, right now. His hand didn’t tremble as he picked up the cup and smelled the coffee before tasting it; it was good.

“Are you going to tell me what this is all about?” Heero asked, as the hot drink warmed his body. He hadn’t noticed he was feeling cold.

“You found the cell phone,” the man to the left said in a grumpy tone of voice. “We found this.” He put a plastic object on the table, small and rectangular. Heero picked it up with his other hand and studied it from all sides. It took him a while to determine what it was.

“It looks like the safety cap of a syringe,” he said. Drugs?

“Exactly. It’s to protect the needle tip before it’s used. We were too late,” the man to the right sighed. “We didn’t think Feldschweig would move this fast.”

“Come again?” The man’s name made Heero’s skin crawl.

“Emil Septem Vladu,” the man introduced himself. “And this is my brother, Iulien Septem Vladu.” They both looked at Heero with a piercing glare. “We are nazi hunters.”


-------------------------------



“Wake up, lazy American!”

Duo yelped when he was slapped across the face. In a reflex, he moved his right arm, balling his hand into a fist as he got up, and punched the nose of the man in front of him. He was rewarded with a very satisfying, very loud crack. The man put his hands over his nose as blood spurted everywhere. He cried out, swearing in his native language.

“That will be enough for now, Mister Maxwell.” The man with the harsh voice stood at the end of his bed, a Spartan military cot. Duo’s legs were caught in a mess of blankets and sheets; he kicked off all the bed linens and checked his body over; he was still dressed, sans his shoes. He really disliked not knowing his exact location and he stared aggressively at the man. “We have never been properly introduced. I have been dying to meet you. My name is Klaus Feldschweig.”

One Nation, One People, One Fate: Why Accepting Imperfection In Our Genes Will Lead Us To Our Demise,” Duo answered.

“Very good, very good. I noticed that you had interest in my book.”

Duo frowned. He had read a couple chapters from the book on his first visit to the library. “How long have you been following me?”

“Mister Maxwell, I am a far too busy man to keep track of everyone I am interested in.”
Feldschweig smiled at him, but it didn’t reach his eyes and Duo shivered from the coldness in the man’s voice and expression. “I have personnel.”

“Lauren.”

“Yes. Quite handy, isn’t she? A social butterfly with the traits of a chameleon. She blends in quite nicely.”

Duo snorted. “She has to work on her stealth skills, though. I spotted her amidst a bunch of students. Little did I realize that it was for her to confirm that I was visiting the library, so you could set up my kidnapping.”

“Excellent observation.” Feldschweig sounded amused and annoyed at the same time. “I will pass her your constructive critique.”

“Please do,” Duo said pleasantly. “Now, let me get the fuck out of here.”

“I can’t comply with your wish, not yet.” Feldschweig wasn’t bothered at all that Duo could attack him. He just stood there, like a rock, as if nothing could faze him. The two other men in the room, not looking muscular in particular, weren’t carrying weapons. They probably figured that Feldschweig’s presence was impressive and imposing enough to keep their prisoner subdued. Duo had to admit, it worked. Feldschweig was tall and undeniably in prime physical condition; he figured that if he attacked the man, he would be struck down without his opponent breaking out in a sweat. “You’re a very important asset to us.”

“If you think I’m going to join your nazi-fest, you’re wrong,” he snarled at him. Feldschweig didn’t answer. He made a gesture with his hand and the two other men moved forward, grabbing Duo at his upper arms and dragged him from the cot. Duo found his footing and tried to straighten himself, as dignified as possible. His movements weren’t as sluggish as before and his mind was clear and rational. Wait until Heero gets here, Duo thought to himself. For now, I’ll bide my time.

“I’m not interested in your political opinion,” Feldschweig said. He calmly walked after Duo, who dragged his heels. He had no idea where he was. The rocky structure surrounding him, no daylight, the typical stuffy smell… he was inside a cave! Duo had no time to wonder, as he was suddenly pushed forward, into a large, circular room. He almost tripped over his own feet and flailed with his arms to keep his balance.

“Hey! What’s this all about?” He shook his fist at Feldschweig, who calmly joined the others. A quick headcount told Duo that at least fifteen people stood around him, all men with unfriendly, yet nervous faces, ghostly lit by the harsh industrial lights, set up around a crude circle drawn into the ground. What the hell was going on? In the middle of the circle he saw a lump of black fabric, rolled into a human-sized shape. His heart beat rapidly. Apprehensively, Duo approached the roll, reaching for it. The sudden movement of the roll, accompanied by muffled screaming, convinced him that there was a human trapped inside it, indeed - and he tore at the fabric, digging through the layers. He freed up the head first, taking off the black pillowcase that was tied around it. What kind of idiot used a pillowcase? It was a miracle this person hadn’t suffocated! A mass of dark, curly hair was revealed, the sweaty strands plastered across a young woman’s face.

“Branka!” Duo exclaimed, completely aghast. She looked up at him, squinting against the brutal lights, teary-eyed and her face smeared with mascara stains. He removed the gag from her mouth and the sharp ties around her wrists and ankles, discarding the heavy fabric. The girl was shaking and struggled to regain her breath, coughing and wheezing. He helped her back up on her feet. “Are you all right?” he asked, checking her for injuries. She dusted herself off, swallowed and then spat disdainfully on the floor.

“That idiot had the nerve to come over to my house and profess his undying love for me,” she snarled. Duo followed the direction she looked into. Stjepan Djurdjevic and his father were amongst the crowd and to his shock, he definitely recognized one of the Pǎrvulescu brothers: Ferenç. Duo shot him an angry glare, before turning back to Branka. She tucked a few wayward strands of hair behind her ear and stared in front of her, fearless. Duo admired her feistiness; this girl was strong and she wasn’t going down without a fight… and his instinct told him that a fight was inevitable.

“Would you mind telling me what we’re doing here?” he asked out loud. Feldschweig took the lead.

“Tonight, Mister Maxwell, you’re going to write history,” he said, tone of voice pleasant, but his eyes narrowed to mere slits. “Tonight, you’re going to start World War III.”


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